Have you ever wondered how to really get your sliding window tracks clean? Even with their dirt and dead flies, they are often one of the most overlooked areas inside our homes. Well, this is a great time of year to clean them – and we’ll tell you exactly what to do, later in the column.
But before we get to that, let’s review our last blog’s End of Summer To Do list. (It’s a little like school, even if you missed last week’s blog you’re not off the hook for the assignment.)
REVIEWING LAST WEEK
Last week we mentioned once again how a good paint job is important for your house’s siding and keeping the water, mold and mildew out! Also, we reiterated that even if you don’t paint your house this year, a scrub with 30 Second cleaner and a good rinse will get the grime off and actually help your current paint job last.
We also stressed ladder safety in the same breath as what to do if you don’t have gutter guards to keep out debris or your gutters themselves need to be secured tightly to your house. This is also a great time to take care of those issues.
Lastly, we mentioned that any grass, tree or shrub that is touching the siding or roof of your house needs to be cut back so it’s at least one-foot from any structure. And of course, if you see any dangerous limbs or unstable trees taking care of that now before the fall storms hit is the prudent thing to do.
CAULKING KEEPS MOISTURE OUT
While we talked about painting last week, we didn’t talk about caulking. So we can’t pass by the opportunity to do that today.
Sun (UV light) damages caulk. A good caulk job should be hidden from the sun and elements by paint or flashing whenever possible. So, if the caulk around windows and doors looks like it’s weathered, it’s time to start fresh. Of course – the optimal time to do this is before you paint. But if your inspection shows that new caulk is needed, don’t delay and then paint over it when cured.
For starters, take a sharp tool which will cut out the old caulk and remove it to sound wood or metal. Caulking over existing caulk not only doesn’t look as nice but it can also inadvertently trap moisture behind it – defeating the purpose of caulking to begin with! Once the affected section of caulk is removed, carefully apply new caulk. Use a wet finger or smoothing tool to seal the edges in tightly…less is more and covered is best.
GIVING WINDOWS A TRUE CLEAN-UP
It’s not just fresh caulk or even clean window panes that make a house feel fresh, a scrubbed up, bug-free window track is also a sign of a window that rainwater will drain properly through the irrigation channels hidden under the track to the outside. I’m sure you know what we’re talking about. The grime, dirt, specks of mold and families of flies that quickly accumulate in the tracks of your windows are simply gross.
Even if you are someone who is diligent about cleaning them, it’s typically hard to get them truly clean. Plus you may not have realized how much it can help to have the irrigation channel hidden under the window track clean. If it is clean it will prevent moisture from seeping into your window frames and siding.
So, here’s how you do it: First open your vinyl or aluminum openable window all the way. Then lift the moving portion of the window completely out. (Yes, you can do that!) Now you can take a putty knife and pop out the lower track so that it exposes the window frame. Yes, it does come out. Just lift the movable portion and clean. (Do take note of how it was sitting in the window frame first so you’ll know which end to put where.)
Now you you clean the part you removed and also clean and dry the area underneath the track. When the underneath and the track itself are clean and bug free, just place the window track back in, followed by the window.
CHECK FOR Z FLASHINGS AT WINDOW
While you are inspecting your windows, take a look from a different angle and go outside.
Most homes have something called Z flashings or head flash which is located on top of the trim board for your windows. The Z flashing diverts water away from the top of your window. Yes, your windows still show raindrops; however with Z flashing the majority of the water is directed away from the top of your window. This helps prevent leaks and the trouble they create for siding, trim and window frames.
However, not all homes have Z flashing above their windows. The better older homes back in the day had a sloped head trim board to do this job. If this is your type, make sure the wood is sound, caulked and well painted.
If your windows are leaking and don’t seem to have flashing, take a trip to your local hardware store and talk to the folks there about how to install some. Or, it’s a good project for a licensed professional to install them.